Its sunday again.

Like the title says, its Sunday again, and I have nothing to tell you. but Im writing because I promised, and I try to keep my promises.

This last few weeks have been hell. I don’t know how many of you battle with depression. But I do. And its a battle that never ends.

I’ve been close. So close. to giving up.

Everyday I get out of bed and wish that I hadn’t woken up. That it would all just end. People say it gets better, that its a sickness, and there is help. Which doesn’t help. I don’t want help. I don’t want to get better. I just want it over.

No one will let me go. I’ve tried to say goodbye in so many ways and each time they hang on tighter.

There are days where Im peaceful. Made my decision and ready to just… go. Then someone comes and holds me and wont let go.

I don’t want to be dead. That isn’t the plan. I just don’t want to be here. To carry on hollowed out of all joy and pleasure is a hell all its own. Everything hurts. The idea that I have a whole life ahead of me with that is more than I can take. Writing gives me no peace. Talking doesn’t help. Its just the idea of leaving people that care for me behind to suffer that is holding me here.

I am getting the help. Taking the meds. Doing the talking. Trying to pretend for a little while that I want to be here.

I know many of you dont read this, and that is okay. Its not a suicide note. Its not for you that I write this, but for me. Some concrete manifestation of the emptiness that is consuming me.

I have temporal lobe epilepsy, as some of you know, and that makes it harder than it should to look forward to the future. The days when I cant move properly, or think, or talk. The disconnect between me and the rest of the people that are around me hurts. Its too much. And I know there is no cure. The meds dont work for it. I seize and the world is broken.

I know you all want the next book, and I would like to promise that it will come. But right now I cant. I cant promise anyone anything. There is nothing left of me.

I just wanted you to know that if I disappear, it has been an amazing ride connecting with my readers. To know that I produced/achieved something that has brought pleasure to others. You have kept me going when other things didnt. So thank you all.

A day early

I don’t have a craft post for you, but feel free to comment with suggestions. It would make my life a touch easier.

its that time of year when the world goes mad, yes, its exam season. You thought I was going to mention Christmas, and oh look I have.

I have an innate dislike of Christmas. The whole experience for me is stressful, and painful. The season is an exercise in one-upmanship. I know its supposed to be one of joy, and for some it is.

Not so for me. The gentle force of those trying to inspire that same false cheer, as if they can not enjoy it unless everyone else is. The early start to the whole thing. Its November. We don’t do it for any other day, so what makes Christmas different.

But I digress. I have exams. And they are going to be brutal, so I may be out of touch for a little while.

I will read all emails, and comments, but I may not respond for a while.

And even though I dislike Christmas, I wish you all the best with yours. Its not about the gifts its about the connection to your loved ones. Try to remember that when you get stressed out over what to get for everyone.

Happy holidays,

P. Tempest

Craft: Story structure

This is going to be a short one, as I have course work pending for uni. In fact this is me putting off the course work, but I can only justify a short one.

So, moving on to the topic, Story structure, what is it? Why is it important?

I could get all meta about it and draw parallels between life, and the universe but no one needs that. So story structure is all about expectations.

We as readers and writers are conditioned by all that has gone before. Things have a start, they have  middle and they have an end. But there is more than that. Those three stages don’t cover much of anything, as significant things happen in each of the stages.

In the start we have the introduction to the conflict, the characters, the world. We establish the rules. We set up everything.

The middle is the inevitable. It is where thing play out, we explore, we angst about what the hell is going on and why we should care.

The end, it the resolution. Its the pay off on caring. Hopefully.

 

That is it in a nut shell, but we could go deeper. What is this rising action thing I have heard so much about, I hear you ask.

Well, its been covered by many more insightful than I. You could Google and see what comes up. But as with some many things in art, in writing, it means something different to every one. To me, it is the increase in investment. Things happen and start pulling you along, dragging you through what could be a quite boring book.

Stories have structures because everything does. Play with them at your peril, for they are there for a reason. We need them. A reader wants to be surprised, and entertained but they also want to be lulled with the familiarity that comes with the structure, the reassuring sense of home. Its what draws us back to the old fairy tales.

If any of you feel like a bit of homework, yeah, I’m sharing the pain here, you could look at some of the classics and see what structures they follow and break. See what draws you in and repulses you. You might find out something about yourself.

Life: sometimes it kicks you in the face

Its Sunday again. I don’t have a craft topic. I don’t have much to say at all today. But I promised I would do Sunday posts, so I shall.

My life has taken a turn for the…. lets go with different.

I started university at the end of September and oh my is it frustrating. But its had a detrimental effect on my relationship at home. Arguments and stress, to say the very least. So I am moving out, during the week, and we shall see if it calms things down.

Some of you only read because of potential updates, and I wish there was one. But at the end of the day I’m just as human as the rest of you, I have responsibilities outside of my writing. Currently those responsibilities are leading me to get out of Dodge before my life explodes even further.  I will strive to write as much as possible. I may even hit my self imposed deadline.

I just felt that you deserved to know.

Craft: Children

Someone suggested to me this topic, so bear with me while I piece together my own views on it.

Children are hard.

That single statement hardly covers it but it all boils down to that. Children are hard to write, and that is because many of us have grown beyond the mindset that comes with childhood. They are not simply small adults. Which is something many people write them as.

It gets even harder if you have children that have undergone trauma. They can go many ways, just as adults can, but you cant predict exactly which way they will go, unlike adults who typically are affected in a limited number of ways.

Perspectives matter even more with children. I could not write Sophia in first, it would just not work. I don’t have the right insight for it. And that, I feel is something that is important. Insight, experience.

As with all things with writing, and life, there are many ways to do it right or wrong. I like to believe I did okay with Sophia, but I can see how in places I fell short.

Children in fiction are hard done by, as few authors are willing to devote the time and energy. In fact, only two spring to mind: Robin Hobb, her Farseer books are amazing and you should stop now and read them, and Brent Week’s Way of Shadows.

There are others, I’m sure but these are two in my mind.

On the tip of my tongue.

This is something everyone has experienced and it is soooo frustrating.

You may find yourself in the middle of a conversation, an argument, maybe a debate, and you seem to forget how to English. You had the perfect line just waiting to come out and it evaporates like the morning mists, leaving nothing but silence and a sort of gap in your thoughts while you try to grasp it.

This, unfortunately, happens in writing, and is the cause of some of my more poetic sentences.

I have nothing against beautiful prose, but, as most of you have noticed, I’m more direct and functional than beautiful. Clarity has a purity all its own that raises it up. And the perfect word is, well, for lack of a better word, perfect.

Every author does, or should seek the perfect word, the perfect line, the perfect story, but we are just as human as the rest of you. Nothing comes easily, and some days it’s just not worth getting up. Editing can help. So can multiple read throughs. But they are stop gap measures, for once the moment has past all you are left with is the knowledge that a better word should go there.

In conversation you can fumble and it will be forgotten. In text, it is there forever.

How do you cope when your brain goes nope?

Not a craft sunday

This sunday, I don’t have a topic. Not that I don’t have potential topics but nothing is standing out and demanding to be written about. So instead Im going to mention other stuff.

I rarely talk about my life. Im not that sort of person. You are fans, readers, interested people, but in many ways there is no connection between us. So I try not to burden you and all I get to keep my aura of mystery.

But this part impacts on my writing. I have just started university. And it is brutal. Now, I’m not saying this to garner sympathy or anything like that. Just saying so that you know, that if I am unreachable, its because I am stupidly busy.

You all want Magelife 2, and I really want to be finished writing it, so I’m doing that as much as possible. But by that same token, I’m paying a great deal of money for an education, and I can’t short myself there either. It will be a demanding balancing act for a while.

Thought it would be best for you to know.

Sunday

Like I said before, Sunday used to be my update day when Magelife was a web serial, so in honour of that I try to make a post on the blog. Today’s isn’t going to be a craft one, not as such, it’s going to be about process.

Many of my followers are writers. It’s actually fairly normal for a writer to collect writers. But this isn’t aimed at them specifically because  they all have their own process. This is for my readers.

Process: What is it?

It is the method, the habits, the system by which a writer writes.  It is not the words. It is not the structure of the story or the development of the characters. It is the, seemingly, simple method of putting words on the page.

With that out-of-the-way, we can pick it apart. Most of my readers have had class work, essays, even tests, where the words didn’t come. And they agonised over it. Grew frustrated, possibly even shouted at it and themselves.

It’s the same for us.

My process is very simple. I cut out time from my day, depending on what else is on the docket, I cut out most of the day. I open up my document. Microsoft Word is my preference. It’s slow on my old, obsolete laptop, so I make a cup of tea while it loads. Then, when it’s ready, I read what I wrote the day before.

That reading helps me get my thoughts in order, to get in the mindset of work. And then I start typing. My goal is five hundred words within the first hour. It doesn’t always happen, sometimes its like pulling teeth. If it doesn’t I stop for a few minutes, get up, walk around.

Then I go another hour. Typically the second hour is better, my goal increases to a thousand words. That is a harder goal, not just in raw wordage but in the merit of the words.

After that hour, unless I’m on a roll, I stop again. This time to check out my emails, keep up with friends on Facebook, look for messages on the amazon forum. Maybe find something to eat if it’s that time of day.

Those two hours are important for me, even when they aren’t productive. They let me gauge myself. Thoughts don’t always come when they are needed but they get pushed about. Just the same with assignments for school or work, doing it on demand happens when you invest the time.

This is for my readers that understand that writing is still work, it’s still putting in the hours. Some writers can churn out thousands of words a day, and I can, but they aren’t always good words, or the right ones. Some days everything on the page is wrong, and it has to be deleted before it corrupts everything else. Those are bad days. Days that feel wasted. But they aren’t wasted.

Magelife two is at thirty-six thousand words right now. And I must have written two hundred thousand on it since starting January. Wrong turns. Plot points that go nowhere. The story changes. I have three version of the starting point. I’m happy with the current one, but it isn’t where I first thought it would start.

Much like that essay that you got an A on. It is not your first attempt, because your first attempt probably didn’t answer the question. It looked like it did, but something made you change it.

That is writing for me, it’s a continual process. Words in, story out. But work is lost in the middle because it doesn’t answer the question, or serve the purpose it is meant to

Like so many things writing takes longer than many would like. There is always hidden work, work that no one will ever see in the final product.

Necromancy

So, Ive been busy, with my beta readers on my new book.

Necromancy is a bit different to Magelife. Its short for one thing. 130 odd pages. But it is lean.

I hope that you guys enjoy reading it as much as I did writing is.

Necromancy is live now, so head on over and buy it, if it seems like it might be your thing. If its not, tell your friends and family, they might want to take a shot at it.

Craft: Pacing

This is a difficult one to discuss because everyone has a different idea of what is a good pace.

There are a few solid points though. Action should be fast, quick, short sentences. You want the reader to feel the tension, the excitement.

Really the pace of a scene should be dictated by the characters and the content. But readers and writers often have different ideas of what is the right pace.

Genre fiction, such as fantasy has sub genres. Epic fantasy is normally far slower paced than something like urban fantasy. There are exceptions, of course, but as a general rule, it works.

When I wrote Magelife, it was my first story. Honestly, I hadn’t written anything since I left school, with my failed in English, a decade and change ago. But I read a lot. Most of you can tell my inexperience, but you can also tell my passion to tell the story. That affected the pacing. Parts were too fast, in the wrong places. Others were too slow. I expanding when I shouldn’t have, and gave short measure to parts that needed fleshing out.

I knew it was fantasy, but where does it fit? Its not epic, its told in first person. Its not urban either, which is normally in our world but with magic. So what is it? I don’t know. Its fantasy, action-y but not action packed. Adventure sure, but also slice of life. It is something. This left me befuddled as to how to pace it and I had to wing it.

It was also a web serial. Some of you know that, some of you were readers then. But web serials have a different pace than a novel. Each chapter is delivered in isolation. On a weekly or fortnightly basis a chapter is released and the readers are let at it.

This can create problems. I know of other serials that end on cliff-hangers, almost every chapter. Its like the hook of the first chapters in a novel. A technique to keep the engagement of the audience. Its also something that doesn’t fit too well in a novel. You don’t want a cliff hanger in the middle of a novel.

One of the biggest problems for an author when writing is to look at their story with an unbiased eye. We have to tighten the action to make it snap. We have to slow down, give breathers after such tension, to explain, to let the reader get drawn in. Few stories are non-stop action. And if they were it would be like jumping on a galloping horse. It leaves you breathless.

Pace also helps by reinforcing the emotions. When the narration is relaxed, the reader feels it, promoting a connection with the work.

There are many challenges to writing a compelling tale. Pacing is just one.